Remains of Pearl Harbor sailors return home after 77 years
More than 75 years after nearly 2,400 members of the U.S. military were killed in the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, some who died on Dec. 7, 1941, are finally being laid to rest in cemeteries across the United States.
In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed nearly 400 sets of remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii after determining advances in forensic science and genealogical help from families could make identifications possible. They were all on the USS Oklahoma, which capsized during the attack, and had been buried as unknowns after the war.
Altogether, 429 sailors and Marines on the Oklahoma were killed. Only 35 were identified in the years immediately after the attack. The Oklahoma’s casualties were second only to the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 men.
The agency has identified about 190 sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma who were previously unidentified.
Slowly, the remains are being sent to be reburied in places like Traer, Iowa, and Ontanogan, Michigan.
Here’s a look at some of those who have either already been reburied this year or who will be interred on Friday:
Durell Wade: Wade was born in 1917 in the Hardin Town community of rural Calhoun County, Mississippi. He enlisted in the Navy in 1936 and in 1940 re-enlisted for another two-year tour.
William Bruesewitz: Renate Starck has been pondering the eulogy she’ll give at the funeral for her uncle, Navy Seaman 1st Class William Bruesewitz, on Friday. “We always have thought of him on Dec. 7,” she said. “He’s already such a big part of that history.” Bruesewitz, of Appleton, Wisconsin, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Robert Kimball Holmes: The remains of Marine Pfc. Robert Kimball Holmes were interred in August in his hometown of Salt Lake City.
Lowell Valley: For 20 years, Navy Fireman 2nd Class Lowell Valley’s brother worked to identify USS Oklahoma sailors.
Now that Valley has been identified and his remains have been returned home to Ontonagon, Michigan, Bob Valley expects his role in helping identify a group of 27 sailors will soon be over. All 27 have been located.
On July 7, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Krietz gives a flag to Mark Arickx, nephew to Seaman First Class Leon Arickx, in Osage, Iowa. Arickx’ remains were identified through DNA.